By Godwin Oritse
NATIONAL Chairman of Ports Facility Security Officers Forum of Nigeria (PFSOFN), Ignatius Uche, has said that states in the Gulf of Guinea have lost billions of dollars due to sea piracy, armed robbery and other maritime criminal activities.
He said criminal activities and attendant loss of billions of dollars have posed significant threats to the economy and national security of states that make up the Gulf of Guinea.
Speaking at the just concluded , 2021 conference of PFSOFN at Asaba, Delta State, Uche was represented by National vice chairman, Mrs, Gloria Ayika, added that the security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea states have impacted negatively on ports operations in Nigeria.
He said firm and unwavering action was needed as frontline officers in ports facility security so as to curb the threats and put them under control.
He insisted that acts that tantamount to evasion of rules and regulations in ways that aid maritime criminal activities in whatever guise must be vigorously fought and brought to a standstill.
Ayika, who is also the chairman of Niger Delta Maritime Security Area, said there are security challenges in the GoG states but the ports facility security officers are making deliberate efforts to improve their services at the ports.
According to her, to improve the security services, there is need for collaboration, hence the gathering of all ports security officers to share intelligence, which would aid in mitigating security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea.
She listed armed robbery, sea piracy, illegal fishing and bunkering as some of the criminal activities, which are negatively impacting on ports operations in the GoG states.
As part of success the body has made, she said the group has arrested some stowaways whom they handed over to different security agencies for prosecution.
She commended the present leadership of NIMASA, which has helped in combating crime rate at the high seas.
Director General of NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, who was represented by Mrs. Gloria Anyasodo, Assistant Director of ISPS Code Implementation Unit, told the ports facility security officers that the Gulf of Guinea has enormous potentials with great maritime business opportunities.
He encouraged the ports security officers to put in their best to curb maritime crime, noting that there has been so much attacks on high seas. He said the agency has prosecuted over 20 criminals in relation to maritime crimes.
He said the agency has carried out its mandate in line with international best standards, noting that NIMASA will continue to observe industry best practices. He added that the agency has made several proactive efforts to safeguard Nigeria waterways.
The Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba Usman, said it is not only the maritime sector that is faced with security challenges but the entire globe is battling with security challenges both on land and sea.
The police chief who was represented by the Delta state commissioner of police, Ari Mohammed Ali, said businesses cannot thrive in any environment where there is security challenge.
He noted that to mitigate the challenges, there must be collaboration with all security agencies as no one could combat as a single entity.
He said the 2021 national conference with the theme “Shaping the Future of Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea was aimed at achieving safer water ways for the GoG states.